The Reluctant Fundamentalist director Mira Nair has the benefit of making her next movie based on a beloved bestseller by Mohsin Hamid. After some failed to find the power in Amelia, she is back with a story that is not only powerful, but is both timely and important.
On 9/11, when those planes brought down the Twin Towers, America took a look in the mirror and realized that it truly knew very little about the Middle East. Here we are over a decade later and it seems that that effort to learn more was stunted.
As shown in The Reluctant Fundamentalist trailer, Nair and Hamid present a screen story that gives the conversation between the West and the Middle East a two-sided approach that few movies have had of late. Normally it has been a monologue, and Nair’s film balances her story from both corners of the world.
Riz Ahmed is Changez, a Pakistani young man who grows up in the Middle Eastern country with American capitalism illuminating his eyes. Late in the 1990s, Changez heads to Princeton in an effort to pursue a career in finance in New York City. Upon graduation, that dream is achieved when he scores a job with Kiefer Sutherland’s high power Wall Street establishment. He finds love in Kate Hudson’s artist and life seems to be cruising.
Then… the towers fall, the Pentagon is attacked and that plane is heroically brought down in Pennsylvania. Everything changes for Changez. An America cheerleader has suddenly become the focus of its ire. The impeccable movie (and novel) title comes into focus during this part of the film.
Changez fights on, determined to still live the American dream. But, on a business trip to Atlanta, some of the citizens of his adoptive country show their true colors and then he is beyond devastated.
Nair’s film goes back and forth between Changez in 2011 and him in 2001 and the progression of his fundamentalism is evenly paced and believable beyond belief.
In 2011, he is the suspect in a kidnapping of an American in Pakistan and Liev Schreiber’s journalist (or is he CIA?) is interviewing him in a coffee house as the oppressive search for the American professor pushes the Pakistani citizens into the street.
This is a powder keg, and we learn that Changez could be the spark.
Nair evenly shows how a man who had such love for a country could be turned against it due to its citizens’ ignorance and blind hate. It doesn’t make it right, and our The Reluctant Fundamentalist review can firmly state, that it is simply reality staring us in the face.